The difference between good Bible students and great ones really boils down to this – the ability to ask and to biblically answer questions of the text in order to better know, love and obey God. Note that there are two distinct but interrelated aspects.
- “The ability to ask and to biblically answer questions of the text” can be called the “digging phase.” Think excavation and foundation. It deals with digging for God’s gold and unearthing His treasure. It has to do with context, interpretation, grammar, history, literary type, structure and culture. Truth must be the foundation for life (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17).
- “Better knowing, loving and obeying God” might be called the “living phase.” Think application and transformation. It deals with building our lives on what we have “dug” from God’s word; it has to do with how God’s word impacts our relationship with Him and with others. It has to do with properly building our lives and relationships so as to enjoy abundant life in Christ to the glory of God (cf. Matthew 7:24-27; John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Here’s 5 questions to ask in your study of God’s word that will unquestionably help you achieve the main objective in getting into Scripture.
- What Does the Passage Say About God and What He is Like? In a very real way, the Bible is a book by God and about God and the relationship He wants to have with us. That makes it by far the world’s most important book! The word of God is special revelation from Him. We should long to know what He reveals about Himself. This is not a secondary matter, but an absolutely crucial one (Matthew 22:36-40).
- What Does the Passage Say About People – About This Earth and Its Inhabitants? Through the Bible and the Person of Christ, we have God’s special revelation of Himself to people. Bible study is no mere academic exercise; neither is it some sophisticated form of “Trivial Pursuit.” God has spoken to mankind, and we should pay the greatest of attention to what He has said (Matthew 17:5; Hebrews 1:1-3).
- What Does the Passage Say About People’s Relationship With God – Positively and Negatively? There is a treasure trove of information to be learned in Scripture by carefully examining both the positive and negative ways people related to God (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4).
- What Does the Passage Say About Relating to Other People – Positively and Negatively? Our attitude toward and treatment of others matter to God. One cannot be a great student of Scripture, regardless of how much of its content one may have mastered, who hasn’t learned to love people for whom Jesus came down and died!
- How Does This Passage Fit Into the “Big Story” of God and the Salvation He Provides In Christ? While it is true the Bible consists of two testaments and 66 books, it also is true that the Bible is a single book with a single story. Careful Bible students see both the forest and the trees (and individual limbs and leaves). The books and events contained in Scripture should be thought of as a grand chorus of voices which together harmoniously sing redemption’s sweet song! The individual parts are beautiful; however, when they come together and are seen as one – Wow!
Anytime one studies the word of God, it is as if we are trying to drain the ocean dry – one teaspoon at a time! We simply cannot exhaust it. But we can learn to better fathom its depth and richness, and as a result, to better know, love and obey our Heavenly Father. Mike Vestal